Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Karina Bliss - Rise

Acclaimed literary biographer Elizabeth Winston writes about long-dead heroes. So bad-boy rock
icon Zander Freedman couldn’t possibly tempt her to write his memoir. Except the man is a mass of fascinating contradictions–manipulative, honest, gifted, charismatic and morally ambiguous. In short, everything she seeks in a biography subject. When in her life will she get another chance to work with a living legend? But saying yes to one temptation soon leads to another. Suddenly she’s having heated fantasies about her subject, fantasies this blue-eyed devil is only too willing to stoke. She thought self-control was in her DNA; after all, she grew up a minister’s daughter. She thought wrong.
Rock star Zander Freedman has been an outlier–many would say an outcast–for most of his life. But there’s no disaster he can’t overcome, from the breakup of his band to the inevitable damage to his reputation. His Resurrection Tour is shaping up to be his greatest triumph–if his golden voice holds out. Contracting a respected biographer is simply about creating more buzz. Elizabeth’s integrity is the key to consolidating his legacy as one of rock’s greats. All the damn woman has to do is write down what he tells her. Not force him to think. Or encourage the good guy struggling to get out. And certainly not make him fall in love for the first time in his life. Turns out he is scared of something: being known.

Comment: In 2015 this book was published and I remember getting interested in it because it featured a character from a book I've read years before. In that book, by the same author of course, there was a sort of villain and then this book would have him as the main character. I still had good memories of that first book so I was very curious to see this character redeemed...

In this book we have Zander Freedman's story and how he wanted to resurrect his old band again even at the cost of his brother's health and dignity. But Zander has other reasons he wants no one to know about. He also seems to be playing a game with everyone around him so he decides a book about his reckless ways would be the key to bust up sales and curiosity over himself and his band, Rage, now that the other elements aren't the same ones that made the band's name in the past.
Elizabeth Winston is a writer very known in more serious circles for her well researched biographies and non fiction. She accepts this job for the challenge and to prove her family she isn't as uppity as many people may think. She was not ready to like everyone nor to find a precious man behind Zander's public persona...

I confess I didn't remember a lot from the book that introduced Zander and his band. I also liked how my memory came slowly back while reading this, which is quite the high five to the author's talent: she managed to give glimpses of what had happened without any retelling or description and at the same time she did give a new reader enough basics to savor this one independently.

The only think I remembered more or less was how Zander wasn't the best person to have around and how he appeared to be the "villain". I wasn't doubtful he would be redeemed but how that would work out would be the question.
There was no doubt Zander was actually a normal human being, with doubts and regrets and wishes, same as anyone else. I'm actually surprised at how I emotionally invested in seeing him through a different light and not as such a bad guy. In order to think that, it helped that we got several scenes with him alone, thinking and dealing with the problems he had and trying to solve them. This dichotomy between who the rock star is and who the man behind it all really feels like was probably the most interesting part of the book. I kept thinking how easy it would be to solve everything if only he was honest, but in real life we don't do it with much simpler things and the notion of responsibility was quite evident here.

The heroine, Elizabeth, was interesting to know about and her little quirks made her more vibrant and special. It was nice she was 35 and not a young woman out of college... I think she was a bit too optimistic but to be honest, when she revealed her more angry side towards the end of the book I wasn't as happy with her. She was a balanced person and she offered a good counterpart to Zander.
I liked how they both worked well together as a couple but I think it was easier to see them as two people before they admitted their feelings and then as a couple after, because the process of falling in love wasn't as obvious as I would have liked to see.

The secondary characters were interesting enough. Annoyed when it was supposed to, were funny at the right moments...Some of them still don't make much sense to me but if I ever get to the sequels I might change my mind.
The plot...well, I think one of the best elements was to see how Zander actually had his head in the game and he did everything to keep all balls in the air. This was truly what made me care for him. He tried. Partially, this made the plot, this attempt to make it all a success. I'm curious to see how the other books could develop well after the way this one ended.
I think my biggest problem was the pace. This wasn't a very energized story from the beginning up to a certain point. In fact, it was rather bland and a little bit boring. Personally, it was good it got more vibrant, otherwise my opinion wouldn't have changed for better.

I think this was a good book. I don't think it will be the best ever, but it had many interesting details the author explored quite well about the music industry and what it must be like to be a conscious rock star. The romance wasn't as crazily romantic as I imagined but the characters are above 30 so there was some natural maturity that wasn't that bad either... this was a balanced story, I think.
Let's hope the next one is as structured and well presented.
Grade: 7/10

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